Brokers continue their struggle to place risks, even though many

1 January renewal dates have long since passed.

One outraged broker told me some insurers are charging the same for a month's cover to bridge renewals as they did for a whole year's cover in 2001.

Even good risks are tough to place, according to the broker. He had a book of about £1m of risk to place for old people insuring their homes. They're great risks, he said. "They stay at home all day and are very conscientious about window locks and burglar alarms, but I still can't get an underwriter to quote," he fumed.

Another broker was bewildered about the existence of an extra 10% of capacity at the market this year. "If there has been an uplift, I've not seen any of it," he said.